Here’s a special guest post by Husband! Back when we were brainstorming ideas for our boy’s room and settling on a nautical theme, he dreamed up this idea for a mobile. He envisioned it, designed it, sourced all the materials, and built it all himself. I think it’s pretty awesome, and such a special gift for our little boy! Since this is his project, I’ve asked him to write a bit about it.
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Wife and I both like mobiles a lot, and we’ve made several together in the past, including one made of fabric birds perched on sticks that hangs over our daughter’s bed. So when we wanted decorations for our boy’s room I immediately started thinking of how to make a mobile for him. Since we wanted a nautical theme, boats came to mind, but I didn’t want just a collection of boats hanging by strings. I really like fully rigged tall ships, and as a kid I also really liked reading books with ‘exploded’ views of vehicles, castles, etc., where I could see all the components of the object hovering around the center. Somehow those two things came together in my mind, and I came up with the idea of a mobile that was a single tall ship with the sails floating freely around the hull.
It took me awhile to work out the geometries to make the vision in my head work, but I finally settled on using stiff brass rods to support the sails, which lets them all spin around the center of the ship, while keeping them from spinning around their own axes, which would cause them to tangle with each other. The other advantage of the brass rods is that they give the impression of the fore- and mizzen- (aft) masts. Also, brass just seems to go with a nautical theme.
I tried using actual canvas fabric treated with mod podge for the sails, but that was still too floppy to work, so finally I settled on stiff white cardstock that I fastened to the brass rods with a glue gun. I tried to find a model ship hull that would work, but couldn’t locate anything suitable, and so in the end I carved it out of a single block of balsa wood and painted it with acrylic paint. I also had an idea for awhile of finding some little seagull figurines and placing them on rods above the ship so that they could be ‘flying’ around the top, but I was unable to find any that I liked.
The final ship has three ‘masts’. The mainmast is a single rod with four sails that are free to rotate together. The foremast and mizzenmast each have three sails that can spin around the center of the ship, and each sail is paired with one from the opposite mast. From a balance perspective, it would have been easier to pair bottom sail (course sail) with bottom sail, middle sail (topsail) with middle sail, and top sail (topgallant) with top sail. Unfortunately, the rods I had weren’t long enough to span that distance and still give the scale that I wanted, and so I had to pair the bottom sails with the top sails. This meant I had to add some counterweights, which I made out of beads wrapped in wire that I had braided to look like chain. The hull of the ship is free to rotate and to tip up and down, which gives the impression of being on waves when it is moving.